CLEVELAND, Ohio - At the meeting to form the Republican Party's policy platform here, the committee for the first time was forced to vote on a resolution that would remove traditional marriage language and replace it with support of same-sex marriage.
The proposal, offered by Rachel Hoff, a delegate of D.C. who pronounced herself the first openly gay member of the committee, was soundly defeated. But the support she did have was notable in a Republican Party whose base is still opposed to same-sex marriage.
Hoff's proposal would have removed all of the language pertaining to traditional marriage and replace it with "respect for all families."
The 112-member committee is stacked with some of the most conservative activists of the Republican Party, especially on social issues.
This is the platform that will be associated with Donald Trump, should he win the Republican nomination next week. He has not been involved in drafting the language of the platform and has left it up to the committee, numerous delegates confirmed.
While social issues were the main topic discussed Monday, immigration, trade and the economy are expected to come before the full committee Tuesday. A subcommittee passed an amendment that the U.S. build a physical wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. And a draft of the platform on trade invokes some of Trump's language, saying "We need better negotiated trade agreements that put America first."
But this year there was a concerted effort by pro-LGBT Republicans to alter the party's policy on the issue, especially after a Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage.
The effort was led and financed by Republican donor Paul Singer, a New York hedge-fund manager who invested at least $5 million on the effort, according to reports. They plan to air a commercial advocating for same-sex marriage during Donald Trump's convention speech in prime time next week.
His organization, American Unity Fund, helped to recruit and place Republican allies on the platform committee.
As Hoff was explaining her amendment, she began to tear, saying that "freedom means freedom for everyone."
The committee, not wanting a prolonged debate after nearly twelve hours of meeting Monday, voted to cut off debate on same-sex marriage. Hoff called for a show of hands for her vote, instead of a voice vote, to show the amount of support or opposition. About 20 hands, nearly 20 percent of the committee, supported Hoff's proposal.
Judy Carns, a delegate from Alabama, opposed Hoff, saying, "I don't want our platform watered down like that."
Committee members often said "studies" show that children are healthier and happier in two-parent, opposite sex households.
Annie Dickerson, a delegate from New York, who fought traditional marriage language throughout the day, said an effort to insert the word "traditional" in another part of the platform before "two-parent households" is "another poke in the eye to the gay community."
She said efforts to protect traditional marriage are "outrageous" and based on "horrible reports from 2010."
"It's not a slam against the gay community," one delegate said in opposition, "it's encouraging what's always worked for millennium."
The platform holds no binding power, but is a guiding document of Republican principles. It is often more conservative than the electorate.
The committee also reaffirmed language under the Title IX section regarding bathroom and locker room use for transgender people that aligns with the sex on their birth certificates. The committee overwhelmingly supported it.
Twice Monday, the committee rejected a proposal that would declare children are in their best environment when raised with the their "biological" parents.
A subcommittee on health, families and crime passed an amendment by Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council, that said parents can prescribe "therapy" for their minor children. It's intention is to give a nod to conversion therapy for gay children.
Other issues that saw spirited debate include medical marijuana. A proponent spoke passionately about its ability to help patients in pain, but most committee members weren't swayed.
"We're not talking about Cheech and Chong … we're talking about people with debilitating conditions," one delegate said.
The amendment was defeated after it was called a "gateway drug" and tied to mass shootings.
"That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard in my life," a GOP observer in the audience said reacting to the claims.
The committee also passed, after significant debate, an amendment that would encourage state legislatures to allow the teaching of the Bible in high schools.
Debate also erupted over the classification of the sage grouse and prairie chickens as endangered, a controversial topic in the West and Midwest.
The committee continues Tuesday and the draft will be voted on by the all delegates on the floor of the Republican convention next week.